It would not be “appropriate and safe” to hold bypolls in states where vaccination is ‘sluggish’, especially in states like West Bengal which have not even held the municipal polls on account of the pandemic, the BJP has submitted in its suggestions to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

ET gathers that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and Jayant Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal have suggested to the poll panel that the bypolls be conducted as soon as possible. The RLD has advised that besides restrictions on public meetings, the EC should ‘ban’ entry of all central ministers, MPs, MLAs from parties for campaigning and restrict the participation of political leaders from other states and districts.

Nagaland’s National Democratic Progressive Party has argued against the holding of by-elections in the state citing the assembly elections of 2023 and the ‘advanced’ discussions in the Indo-Naga peace dialogue.

Surprising many, the poll panel last week cited constitutional exigencies and announced the bypoll schedule for Bhabanipur in Bengal from where CM Banerjee intends to contest. She has to get elected as an MLA by November, to retain her post.

The EC has, however, held back the poll schedule for 31 pending bypolls on account of the pandemic.

Before taking the decision, the EC had also sought the opinion of all political parties on holding of bypolls. Only four political parties are learnt to have responded so far.

The BJP has submitted that it may not be “appropriate and safe” to hold by-elections in states where vaccination pace is ‘sluggish’, ET has learnt. The party has singled out Bengal, pointing out that the state has not even been able to hold the local body elections citing Covid-19 exigencies and that local trains were suspended. It has suggested that the EC should consider holding the by-elections only after the latter is able to demonstrate readiness by first conducting the municipal polls.

It has advised the poll panel that bypolls may not be conducted in states scheduled to go to assembly elections within a year.


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